Old Salem Turnpike Trail
ElevationAscent: 132' 40 m
Descent: -289' -88 m
High: 1,109' 338 m
Low: 846' 258 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“An old paved road that loops past the riverfront and allows access to multiple other trails in Explore Park.”— Helen White
In late May, the trail was shaded and cool. Be aware of the slope! You'll start out running downhill and end heading uphill. There's plenty of room to pull off the trail if you need a breather, but if you take your time, it shouldn't be too taxing for anyone who is comfortable in the woods. If you choose to start at Lot D, the last hill up to Lot A from where it breaks off the overlapping River Walk Trail does certainly feel steeper going up than it did coming down. Having taken this one both ways, I think I prefer A to D.
As you come around about a quarter of the way into the trail, you'll see yellow blazes heading off to Palmer's Pond Trail. If you're on Old Salem Turnpike to enjoy the leisurely stroll on a wide, mostly paved surface, be advised that Palmer's Pond, while rewarding, is completely different: it's a connector to Deer Run Trail, and both are much more rugged. Palmer's Pond can get steep and has some narrow dirt switchbacks and tall steps. If you're unsure of your footing, I suggest following Old Salem Turnpike. You'll get to enjoy the waterfront views after the downward climb, when it parallels the Roanoke River along the River Walk Trail. This section is relatively stable and flat, and makes for a quick, pleasant outing.
While you're here, listen for the train on the other side of the river!
This trail isn't bad for bugs, as it is quite well-maintained. There could be some gnats down along the river depending on the time of day you go.
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Land Manager: Roanoke City Parks and Recreation